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dESPite all odds
I live in Spain and experience first-hand the fallout produced by government action taken against the spread of SARS-CoV-2. On 1 October, Madrid and a few other regions have reintroduced targeted lockdowns and other restrictions on movement for areas with the highest COVID-19 incidence. The Spanish operators of wind tunnels (and of drop zones) have to run their facilities against this bleak backdrop. This dESPite all odds summary attempts to describe what they have to contend with.
As if the negative 12.8% in the Gross National Product, which the International Monetary Fund projects for the whole of 2020, were not debilitating enough on their own, employment figures in Spain are equally disastrous. The number of employed persons dropped almost 10% over the first two quarters. The net number of people working fell by 1.35 million between January and June. A good thing that the country has a government-funded job protection program. However, the “ERTE” furlough scheme is far less comprehensive and generous than similar programs in other European countries.
With the final analysis still pending, the downturn in tourism was massive for June, July and August. Above all visitors from abroad – who had accounted for 83.7 million in 2019 – never came. It is estimated that the tourist sector failed to generate close to 90 billion €, roughly two thirds of the 140 billion € total in 2019.
Spain is currently testing a similar percentage of the total population
as do most of the other European countries. Approximately 100,000 are tested every single day. The cumulative total number of people infected since the start of the epidemic reached 769,000 (31,800 deaths) today. Fortunately, the fatality rate is dramatically lower now than it was four or five months ago. It stands at 0.6%, second only to Germany 0.4%.
Marked by continuous disruptions and general uncertainty, the past six months should have been by far the most challenging in the entrepreneurial careers of Spanish wind tunnel (and drop zone) owners/operators. Getting staff on and off the ERTE furloughing scheme, securing credit lines and loans, keeping their leisure/sports businesses afloat in an outright recession, a time of low demand for products that are not first necessity, can be very hard and often frustrating work.
I have talked to some of them and tried to ascertain where they are at on their road back to some semblance of normalcy. The table below reflects information available as of 30 September. Of eleven tunnels in Spain, three are closed temporarily and one, scheduled to open in 2020, was never built.